By JOHN MARSHALL
AP Basketball Writer
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) – Washington spent a good portion of the preseason searching for its offensive identity.
The Huskies may have found it in the desert.
Adding a dose of defense to its usual balanced scoring, Washington opened the Pac-12 season with a road rout, racing past Arizona State early in a 76-65 victory over the Sun Devils on Thursday night.
"It's taken a while, but I continue to say we've been making progress," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said. "Tonight, I thought we did as good a job against a quality team that we've done all year over a 40-minute period."
Washington (9-5) has gotten scoring from across its roster all season and that continued against Arizona State.
C.J. Wilcox led the Huskies with 17 points, Andrew Andrews added 14 and freshman Nigel Williams-Goss had 12 points with seven rebounds.
Washington did much of its damage inside, scoring 42 points and grabbing 11 offensive rebounds.
Where Washington has not been as consistent is on the defensive end, allowing teams to shoot nearly 50 percent during nonconference.
The Huskies had been working on their defense and it all seemed to come together against Arizona State.
Washington's defense keyed a big first-half run filled with shots in transition and the Huskies hounded the Sun Devils most of the night before Arizona State hit a few shots in the closing minutes with the game already out of reach.
"We played defense, that's the main thing," Wilcox said. "We guarded them as a team. Most of the game we were on the same page, were able to get up on them and kind of keep our foot down the rest of the game."
Arizona State (11-3) fell flat once Washington got rolling.
The Sun Devils stagnated offensively in an awful first half and made it worse by tying to shoot their way out of it, finishing 2 of 14 from 3-point range.
Jahii Carson led Arizona State with 15 points. Shaquielle McKissic and Jordan Bachynski added 13 points each for the Sun Devils, who had eight assists – fewest since 2007.
"Our inability to convert some of the good shots we had, coupled with I thought we exercised our poorest shot selection of the year really made it difficult for us to score," Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek said. "On the other end, the poor shots resulted in us being on our heels in some instances in our transition defense."
Arizona State had a solid run through nonconference, with victories over UNLV and Marquette and one lopsided loss to No. 20 Creighton.
Washington has gotten off to some slow starts under coach Lorenzo Romar and had a few rough patches in a difficult nonconference schedule. The Huskies lost both of their games against ranked teams, to San Diego State and Connecticut, and were beaten by UC Irvine, Indiana and Boston College.
Washington got off to a fast start against Arizona State behind good shooting and by getting to the rim despite the presence of Bachynski, Arizona State's 7-foot-2 center.
Blackwell got the Huskies started with eight points in the opening 4 1/2 minutes and they kept rolling, using on a 28-5 run to build a 38-21 lead.
Williams-Goss had no trouble getting into the lane against Arizona and Wilcox hit a pair of 3-pointers – one from deep at the shot-clock buzzer – during the run.
Washington scored 26 of its first 30 points in the paint and hit 16 of 31 shots to lead 40-23 at halftime.
The Sun Devils couldn't seem to make anything.
They started off OK, but went cold fast by forcing shots inside and missing most of the open ones they got.
Arizona State made 9 of 31 shots in the opening half, including 1 of their 10 3-point attempts.
And when the Sun Devils missed, it seemed like every time the Huskies raced the other way for a basket.
"We didn't do a good job of hitting our open shots, which fueled their transition game," Carson said.
The Sun Devils were better to start the second half, making four of their first six shots to cut Washington's lead to 44-34.
Just when the fans started getting into it, the Huskies went on a quick 8-0 run that included 3-pointers by Andrews and Wilcox.
Washington built the lead to 24 points before letting up in the closing minutes.
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